I once heard it said that you should live abroad and go home when you start to miss it. But I think you need to stay until you stop missing it. You need to stay until you achieve that wonderful/terrible wayfarer quality of hybrid, “where is home?” confusion. You need to stay until you stop resisting the new culture and start to embrace it.
As I prepare to buy my plane tickets back to the US, here are my (preliminary) mediations on living abroad.
You’ll want to go back because:
- You miss your family & divided by so much distance and $$$ in plane tickets is hard.
- You want to stay close with the friends you left, and you know that if you stay much longer, you’ll miss too much of their lives to fit right back into them.
- You miss the landscapes. You miss your seaside town, or the jagged mountain peaks, or the lake beaches.
- You miss your road trips.
- You’ve been transitory for the past few years — never more than a couple months or years in a place — and all the goodbyes are wearing on you.
You want to stay because:
- You’ve met wonderful people who you may never see again if you leave.
- One of these people might be a boy.
- Right now Greece, Denmark, Germany, Ireland are places to visit on a whim. You know it will never be this easy or cheap to travel around Europe again.
- You’ve come to like it here. To have your favorite places, favorite bars, favorite city views. And the thought of starting all over again is overwhelming.
- You’ve lately been surrounded by fellow world-travellers. The people you meet all have hyphenated nationalities and impressive international experiences. They all speak 4 languages with fluency. You like feeling like one of these wanderers. Some people never do this. And you feel a bit like, once you go back and it’s all stable-job/relationship/life, you may never make it away again.